melissa jill talks about being prepared for client meetings
As photographers, many of us tend to be confident about our skill behind a camera. We know how to use our light, how to choose the best lens for the situation, how to frame the subject. But time and time again, I hear from photographers who struggle with the business aspects of photography. One of the first (and therefore most important) hurdles to overcome in your photography business is meeting with prospective clients. There are very few rules about how a client meeting has to proceed, so you can feel free to structure it however best suits your particular style. Meet in a studio or office, a park or a coffee shop. Bring all of your albums, books and printed collateral, or show a simple screen display. Serve refreshments or don't. There's no one RIGHT way to hold a client meeting.

What you do have to do, is be prepared to answer the questions your potential clients will ask. They expect to leave with a clear understanding of your style, your prices, and what they can anticipate from working with you. Being able to fulfill those expectations is a HUGE part of getting hired (which is kind of crucial to the "professional" part of being a professional photographer -- haha!). To help you prepare, here are 12 questions that I always suggest couples ask their potential wedding photographers. There is no one correct way to answer these questions, but being prepared for them will help you show your potential clients that you are capable and competent -- just the kind of photographer they want for their wedding!

Again, there are not necessarily right or wrong answers for these questions, but I thought by way of example for this post, I'd share how I answer them.

1. How would you describe your photography style?
I have a photojournalistic style of shooting and a bright, airy, classic look. This means I will follow you throughout your wedding day to capture the beauty and emotion of the day -- in the small moments and personal touches, as well as the big, dramatic events. I strive for a timeless look, so that you (and your family) will treasure the photos for years to come. I combine film and digital photography to give you the very best of both worlds!

2. Can I see the proofs for a full wedding you have shot?
Of course! Let me bring up a gallery of one of my recent weddings on the computer.

3. What kinds of photo edits/post-production work do you include as part of your service?
We edit and color correct every image in your gallery. The images in my portfolio and on my website will give you a good idea of what our editing looks like.

4. How long after the wedding can I expect to see my proofs?
I will have a full gallery up for you 3-4 weeks after the wedding. I know how excited you will be to see your photos after the wedding, so I'm passionate about getting them to you promptly!

5. Could you explain exactly what is included in your package(s), and can we customize one to fit our needs?
Absolutely! I have a package and pricing sheet that lays out what is included in each of my packages, and we can easily customize any package to meet your needs. Tell me what you would like included, and I will build a package that's a perfect fit!

6. How many hours of coverage are included?
All of my packages include 8 hours of wedding day coverage. If you need more coverage on your wedding day, I am happy to add that on for an hourly rate.

7. How much would it be for additional hours of coverage if things run late or if our plans change?
I charge $500/hour for additional hours of coverage.

8. Do your packages include a second photographer?
Always! There are so many "can't miss" moments and special details during a wedding day -- I include a second photographer in all of my packages to ensure we capture as many of these as possible! I also have a non-shooting assistant with me throughout the day, so that my whole focus can be on what's happening in front of my camera.

9. Can I see a contract?
Yes! I'll be happy to show you what my standard contract looks like, and you will be able to thoroughly review your own specific contract before you sign or pay a retainer.

10. What is your policy if you become injured or ill and can't photograph the wedding?
There are two possibilities in this situation, both of which are explained in my contract. The first is that I will make every effort to find a suitable replacement. I have a wide acquaintance with the talented and dedicated photography community in my area, and I am confident that I could find a replacement that you approve of who would do an excellent job. The second option is: if you don't wish me to find a replacement, I will refund your payment so that you can make alternate arrangements.

11. What kind of insurance do you have?
I have extensive liability coverage which extends to me and my equipment while I'm on the job.

12. Can you assure us that you have backup equipment?
I can. Part of the reason I bring a rolling suitcase of equipment with me to a wedding is so that I can be sure to always have my backup cameras, extra batteries, extra film and memory cards, etc., to be sure that all of my bases are covered. You can click here to see a summary of the gear that I bring with me to every wedding.

I think the boy scouts have a good thing going for them with their whole "Be Prepared" mantra. Take a little time to make sure that you know how you would answer these kinds of question BEFORE you go into you client meeting, and you'll be free to concentrate on forging a personal connection with your potential clients DURING the meeting!

I hope you found this post helpful! If you're new to professional photography, you might feel daunted by some of the questions that deal with your contract. I offer my contract for sale as a resource for other photographers to customize and use for themselves. It's been carefully vetted by my lawyer, and it has served me well for years, so it might be a helpful starting point for you as you build your business. Click here to find out more!
wedding photography contract and resources
12 questions that wedding photographers should be ready to answer when meeting with potential clients
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